How many schools should I apply to?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

How many schools should I apply to?

Woodrow Dunn
Academic Counselor Freedom High School

How many schools should I apply to?

Before applying I would investigate to determine what schools would be a good fit. You would not apply to an Ivy League school unless you had extremely good grades and good SAT/ACT scores.

Elisa Bennett
Director & Independent College Counselor Access 2 Admission

The Number of Applications a Student Should Submit

I often suggest that students should consider applying to a minimum of 5 schools. One of those schools should be a "safety school". Acceptance is almost 100% expected based on the students profile for safety schools.. One school could be a "stretch" school, meaning that the student may really have to work to get accepted. The rest of the five should be the schools in the middle that the student would likely be accepted to, but not necessarily guaranteed. * Financial Needs should also be considered when students are categorizing their school applications. In addition, students that are interested in Historically Black Colleges and Universities may consider applying to 35 schools at once by completing one application, one essay, and paying one $35 application fee at

Chyriell Drain-Hill
Director of School Counseling Belleville Township HS East

How many appplications should I submit?

I recommend a minimum of 3 college applications.

Connie Decker
Owner Connie Decker & Associates

How many schools should I apply to?

Students are applying to more schools in recent years because of the relative ease of doing applications online. Of course, you must pay the application fee for each college, and this can mount up. Applying for more than 8 institutions doesn't serve you well; it will only make a college's admissions statistics appear more selective. If you have done your research before the application season begins, and better yet, if you have had an opportunity to visit colleges, then applying to 5-8 schools is a good number. You should have 3 kinds of colleges THAT YOU LIKE on your list: The "reach" schools or "dream" schools, the "competitive" schools--where your scores and grades are commensurate with those students who were admitted, and the "sure" campuses--usually those that are formula-driven. If you have the GPA and test scores, you will be admitted.

Ted Skowron
Counselor Brophy College Preparatory

consider 8 out of state schools

Most in-state universities have a rather set formula for admission that relies on gpa and standardized testing. Private schools will look not just at gpa and standardized test results but also on your reported activities, personal statement, and recommendations. When narrowing down one's list, it is good to have two reach schools, four in the competitive range, and two that you most likely will be admitted.

Don Tamminga

How many schools should I apply to?

That depends...generally the less sure you are of what you want to do and where you want to go, the more schools you should apply to. I encourage students to create a list of a couple of reach colleges which they may or may not be accepted into, four target colleges which they would be happy to go to and would meet their needs and they likely would be accepted to and the a coouple colleges as a back up plan whcih they know they can get into if all else fails.

Robin Farris

Safety, Good Chance or reach....How many should a student apply to?

I typically ask students to apply to three reach, three good chance and two to three safety schools, one of which should be a financial, just in case their financial aid package doesn't meet their needs

Leigh Spence

Not 31!

I recommend that students not apply to more than 10 colleges at the very most and three to five is a very manageable number. I always suggest applying to a safety school (one the student knows he/she can get in), a reach school (one that he/she is uncertain they can get in) and a dream school (the "if-all-the-planets-are-in-alignment" school.) I once had a student apply to 31 colleges and that was WAY too many!

kati swanson
Counselor TMCC HS

Limit your college applications to 5

Once the application phase of the college admissions process has started students should have already completed their research of prospective colleges. Students should have narrowed their college choices down to their first choice school plus several second choices and a safety school. A safety school is the school to which a student is confident of being admitted. Applying to many schools without thoroughly researching them will not help a student decide on the best college fit.

Trevor Creeden
Director of College and Career Counseling Delaware County Christian School

How many schools should I apply to?

It is always best to apply to six schools. Two schools that are considered "reach" or "highly competitive" schools for you, two schools that are "moderately competitive" or your GPA and test scores are where their ranges are, and two "safety" or "fallback" schools that your GPA and tests scores are above what they are looking for. It should be a flexible list that fits your GPA and test score ranges.